Sunday, 29 December 2013

2014 Running Goals

Understanding this has never worked for me before, I'm setting my goals for the year, along with everyone else.

2013 turned out to be a great year for my running.  I didn't run a single time in January, then started very slowly in February with the St. Patrick's Day 5k in sight.  It was a particularly stressful start to the year in my work life, so I decided to shoot for improving at 5k races instead of adding the stress by not getting long runs done.  I ran short training runs much more frequently.

It turned out to be the best thing I could have done.  I'm still not lightning fast, and probably never will be, but I squeaked out personal records in the three out of the four race distances I ran.  I only ran one 10k at the Zoo and did better than I had at that particular race, but didn't PR.

27:20 down from 28:49 = 6.2% faster at my new favourite race (sorry, Pride Run), that runs in front of the Santa Claus Parade, complete with tens of thousands of cheering people.  I also beat that previous PR in five other 5k races this year.

10 miles
41:17 down from 46:02 = 10.9% faster at the Boxing Day 10 miler versus the summer time Acura 10 miler.

Half marathon
2:13:51 down from 2:21:10 = 5.2% faster at the Road to Hope in Hamilton compared to Scotia Bank Toronto Waterfront, but I had a very similar time in Hamilton 2 years ago.

Of course, now I have to do another marathon.  I have to.  I'll do the same one I did in 2012 -- the Goodlife Toronto Marathon -- and will train properly this time.  That means pushing myself when I didn't before, planning out race day fueling and being more consistent with hill and speed workouts. I'll still be realistic based on the above improvement times: in 2012 I finished the marathon in 4:58:20,  5% improvement is a finish time of 4:43:25 and 10% improvement is 4:28:30.  I'll reach for 10, be satisfied with 5, and devastated with less.  With work settling in to a good routine, not to mention senior students to do much of the work for the winter, I believe it can be done.  But I'm already sick of the Star Wars references to the May 4 race date, and I haven't even heard any yet.

Sixteen week training starts mid January.  Fire up the Visa and sign us up, Phil!

Otherwise, I'll be trying for PRs in the other distances, particularly that elusive 10K sub 60 minute bane of my existence.  

Phil and I have also been contemplating a destination half marathon in the fall. Any suggestions? We're thinking somewhere in Canada or the US to avoid jet lag.  I should see more of Canada (I've never been to the east coast) and there's many states I'd like to go to -- Arizona, Texas, Colorado, Louisiana (mostly because it's so fun to say Louisiana). 

Monday, 4 November 2013

Hamilton Road 2 Hope Half Marathon

That went well.  It turns out running faster more often makes you run faster.  Who knew?

The other two times I ran this race, I made the mistake of believing the downhill would coast me to a PR without really trying.  Didn't work either time...fool me once and all that.  I was ready this time.  I had put in the kilometers and had even been fairly consistent with hill and speed work. On my training runs through the last month, I tried to mimic the downhill first half/flat second half by running a loop from home to Lake Ontario and back.

What's not to like about this elevation change?

This race is particularly well organized.  Package pick-up on Friday was a breeze, with the unexpected delight of being able to choose among four different colours of race shirts. I don't remember ever having a choice before, much less that many options.  The busing to the start line from the parking was painless, and we were able to wait in the toasty warm community centre at the start line.  It was even held on the weekend that daylight savings time ended, giving us an extra hour to sleep.

The line-up for the women's washroom was ridiculously long, but aren't they always?  The choice was to wait inside and potentially not get to the front in time for the race or wait outside in -1C for a porta potty.  I chose the former and was just in under the wire!  Whew.

The race is small -- 1750 in the half, 1005 of them women -- and the marathoners went off 15 minutes prior, so the field spread out quite quickly and didn't feel so crowded.  The volunteers were extremely friendly and helpful.  Again this year the local high schools came out to manage the water stations, which were plentiful, and showed great support.

And I ran it well, not going nutty at the beginning and keeping my effort consistent on the downhll.  I prepared myself for the second half and vowed to run the whole thing.  As it was fairly chilly, I didn't feel the need to stop for water or Honey Maxx until about 12k in, but I did walk long enough to drink at the last three stops.  The low point came at about 15k, when the course goes along the lakefront trail away from the finish line.  It felt like it was going on forever and I knew I'd have to turn around and run it again.  I fought through the overwhelming desire to walk and pushed through.  With about 2k left to go, the marathon winner passed me and I couldn't keep up with him for more than one stride. Crazy. Motivating.

Instead of foil wraps, they gave out these
funky disposable jackets.  Too cool.
I came in with a huge PR -- 7:21 faster in fact -- at 2:13:49.  Still far from getting under 2 hours, which I thought would happen so much sooner when I started running, but that much closer.  Woot!

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

So much for that.

My plan was to devote the year to faster, shorter races, since I was having trouble finding big enough chunks of time to devote to half or full marathon training.  Guess what?  Short race training gets boring quicker.

We ran Erica's Wish in Mississauga August 11 for the third time and there were indeed cupcakes, but I went for the bag of chips instead.  Yum.  Came in at 28:42.  Not a PR.  I'm blaming the loose gravel portion for slowing me down.

September was busy.  The Energizer Night Race in Sunnybrook Park is a favourite.  Registering comes with a headlamp. Phil did the 10k but I did the 5k.  My Garmin conked out two minutes before the start of the race, so I had to run this one naked, which was a first.  I had no clue how far I was unless I happened to see the marker.  It's similar to how I drive now with GPS -- doggedly following instructions and having no knowledge about where I am or how to get home from an unfamiliar area.  Brainless!  That's me.  So I concentrated on keeping my breathing steady instead of counting down the meters like I usually do.  It also helped that I was right near an irritating couple who dressed as bride and groom since it was their 14th wedding anniversary.  I think they told every single runner in the race and photobombed every picture they could.  But what was really annoying is that they beat me, though I came in at 28:04 trying to catch them.  Still not a PR, but it was only last year I was happy to just be under 30:00.

Some people chose to run with fluorescent tube lights instead.
The very next morning, we ran the B&O Yorkville 5k.  This had been my PR before this year's awesome Pride Run and, as we had so many Team Beaverhausen folks running, I thought I might improve that, but was about 13 seconds shy coming in at 27:47.  Being in Yorkville, this run provides very well for its racers -- a flat downtown course, chi chi snacks with espresso post race and indoor Hazelton Lanes washrooms or porta potties, your choice.  An area real estate agent even picked up the tab for pictures so they were free!  I like the way rich people think.  It starts and ends right in front of a huge Nike store, and every year I'm astounded that they're not open for business during the race.

September 21 we did the Oasis Zoo Run.  I did the 10k with Phil and some friends of ours who are new to racing.  Poured rain the whole time and I'm convinced they added some hills at the end.  Again this race, I somehow missed seeing most of the animals, except a large group of flamingos (flamingoes? flaminga? flamingi?)  I had hoped to finally break the hour mark, but no such luck.  Came in at 1:02:06, a full 5 minutes faster than last time I ran it three or four years ago. So there's that.

Oh, and guess who won?

'Nuff said.
So to squash the boredom a little, I signed up for the Road to Hope half marathon in Hamilton coming up on Sunday.  I've run this one twice before, but had never really prepared for it.  It's actually a good race, not too crowded and with a large downhill portion.  My long runs have been going well, so I'm optimistic I'll get a PR, barring catastrophe. Fingers crossed!

Monday, 15 July 2013

The Silver Lining to Getting Old

Phil, Tim and I ran the Dawn at the Don 5k in Sunnybrook Park yesterday.  It wasn't sizzling hot at the 8:00am start, but the sun was very strong and I couldn't keep the decent pace I started with.  No PR for me, but I did have a first -- I placed!  Woot!  3rd in my age group.  Woot!  And Phil won his category by a very wide margin.

Gotta like getting old and running small races.  I'd do this one again too.  It's the only time I've run this venue that the narrow paths weren't horribly overcrowded.   They had an 8k option too, but 5k was plenty.

Next stop is Erica's Wish in Mississauga in August.  We were planning to run the Toronto International 10 miler/5k (formerly the Acura), but it was cancelled this year due to construction.  I've done Erica's Wish twice and seem to remember a cupcake table... 

Sunday, 30 June 2013

Where does the time go?

Lost my mojo for blogging for a while, but am pumped now.  I decided that I simply didn't have the time or interest in training for longer races any more.  Needing to put aside an hour or two every single time I ran led to not going at all, which led to misery at the races. So I've pretty much dropped all but the 5k, and I really am training for them.  Thirty minute training runs are much more doable and, compared to a half marathon, I just don't have to run as far!

And lots has been happening -- at our practice we finally finished renovations and moved into our new space, which we're loving.

The shopping and deciding was fun for a while, but if I ever
have to enter another lighting store, I might lose it.

Phil was working like a dog on a business book about his specialty -- organizational change -- and was published in March this year.  So proud.  There's been a whirlwind of speaking engagements, interviews, reviews, projects, etc.  You can read all about it at his blog Making Change.

The first shipment had just arrived, and he
was colour coordinated!

I got back into the running swing of things in March with the Achilles St. Patrick's Day 5k.  I took almost 32 minutes to run it (see earlier reference to not running at all), and have run five others since then with improvement each time (except let's not talk about the Harry's Spring Run Off as that hill is just stupid).  The most fabulous was yesterday's Pride and Remembrance Run.  So fun and a huge PR for me down to 27:35.  Still a lot of room for improvement, but it's great to be able to see progress for a change.

I'm still doing bootcamp twice weekly, then I do 10 x 400m intervals at the lake on Sundays, unless there's a race, hills on Wednesdays and at least 2 other easy 5k runs around the neighbourhood.  Nothing takes more than an hour.

With Phil, Mel, Steve and better-than-a-mascot
Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne.  So cool.
Team Beaverhausen 2013.  The only thing missing in this race
is medals, so I made some for the team this year.

 I have been sporadically keeping up with my bloglist and hopefully some of my favourites who have also been silent will make a comeback too!